Today, It’s an Infrastructure Proposal from the President

By September 6, 2010Energy, Infrastructure, Taxation

President Obama will promote infrastructure spending in his speech today at the annual Laborfest in Milwaukee. It’s taxes on Wednesday in Cleveland. But today …

New York Times, “Obama to Call for $50 Billion Spending on Public Works“:

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Monday is to call for as much as $50 billion in government spending to start up a long-term public works plan emphasizing transportation projects – roads, rail and airport runways – over the next six years. …

While Mr. Obama’s plan would call for investment over six years, the White House says it would be front-loaded with an initial investment of $50 billion in taxpayer money, to help create jobs in the shorter term. The administration says it would work with Congress to find ways to pay for the plan, so that it would not add to the nation’s rising deficit. One possibility would be to cut existing subsidies for oil and gas exploration and production.

Perhaps anticipating the announcement, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers released a statement from its president, Dennis Slater, this morning. From “America’s Manufacturers Need More to Celebrate This Labor Day“:

Jobs and the economy are popular topics in Washington right now, and many are talking about investing in America’s infrastructure as an important first step.  But almost nobody is addressing the elephant in the room:  America needs a fully-funded, multi-year transportation bill, and we need it now.  There are few, if any, better drivers of economic growth and job creation than infrastructure investment, and it can’t be done piecemeal.  We need a strategic vision for modernizing our country’s infrastructure, and leaders with the courage to make it happen.  That’s what will build America’s manufacturing sector and our economy, and bring lasting benefits to America for generations to come.

Verily. The surface transportation bill expired on Sept. 30, 2009, and since then the federal highway spending has been reauthorized several times on a short-term basis. The President’s renewed focus on infrastructure is welcome: Perhaps he will include  a demand that Congress reauthorize the highway bill before it leaves to campaign. (We’d love to hear something like: “Jobs are the priority, and so I urge Congress to drop extraneous, partisan and divisive legislative proposals from its agenda. This is no time for such destructive distractions as the DISCLOSE Act.”)

The National Association of Manufacturers has long identified transportation infrastructure as a competitive imperative, well summarized in our NAM ManuFact. The economic value of investing  in infrastructure was a central thrust of the Milken Institute study the NAM released in January, 2010, “Jobs for America: Investments and policies for economic growth and competitiveness,” and the NAM prominently cites the need for infrastructure investment in our policy guide and call to action, “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America.”

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